July 19, 2016 – Press Briefing of PCO Sec. Andanar with Presidential Adviser for Peace Process Sec. Jess Dureza
|Press Briefing of PCO Sec. Andanar with Presidential Adviser for Peace Process Sec. Jess Dureza|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg., Malacañang|
|19 July 2016|
SEC. ANDANAR: Good afternoon, Marie. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special guest today. Secretary Jess Dureza is a stranger to newsmen obviously. [laughs] Obviously, he is no stranger to newsmen covering the seat of the presidency as Sec. Jess served as Press Secretary here in Malacañang. However, this bar topnotcher is better known as a man of peace who served the island province of Mindanao in various capacities: Chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council, Presidential Assistant for Mindanao and Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process. Sec. Jess is an Ilonggo by birth proving that winning the peace is everybody’s aspiration.
As President Duterte’s adviser for the peace process, Sec. Jess envisions a more inclusive peace strategy with the people of Mindanao, Christians, Muslims and indigenous Lumads become stakeholders in transforming Mindanao from an island of promise to an island of fulfillment.
Bringing closure to the decades-old conflict is just the beginning and Sec. Jess’ proposal to bring massive development on the ground simultaneous with the resumption of talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF and implementing agreement such as the MILF’s Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and the MNLF’s 1996 final peace agreement that government has entered into forms part of the Comprehensive Peace Process of the Duterte administration.
Members of the Malacañang Press Corps, let us give a warm welcome to Secretary Jess Dureza.
SEC. DUREZA: Kung pagandahang lalaki, hindi na ako pwedeng lumaban dito sa bagong Press Secretary. Good afternoon, everyone. We called ourselves “the brat pack” before are we still carrying the same reputation and title o hindi na?
Ms. Ruiz: No.
SEC. DUREZA: Ah brat year, brat pack. Okay. I am here upon invitation of Press Sec. Mart and I really look forward to coming here to renew acquaintances and find a few familiar faces who had covered me six years ago or more eight years ago.
So I am here to be roasted again [laughs] by my colleagues in the media. I still consider myself a journalist although on leave because being a journalist has been my first love. I left it joined government, went back again and I am back in government again. So, this is already more than 360 degrees circle already.
So let me open up by immediately informing everyone that the President yesterday approved the new “Roadmap to Peace”, we call it. This will cover our engagements with the Bangsamoro including the CPP-NPA-NDF and then, of course, our effort to do closure to the agreements with the other rebel groups like the CPLA, the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, and the RBB.
The main context of the approach now in the peace negotiations, for example, with the Bangsamoro is already to declare that the time for negotiations are already over. We are now in the process therefore of implementing the peace agreements that have been signed, first, in 1996 with the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari; then we have the recent CAB or the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro with the MILF and, of course, we have also to deal with the governance unit called the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao covered by Republic Act 9054. And perhaps we can put also in the same level the concerns of the IPs or the Lumads as covered by the IPRA Law.
There will be inclusivity, henceforth, under the Duterte Roadmap for Peace where all the Bangsamoro factions, groups will have to come under one roof so that there will be inclusivity in the implementation of all this particular agreements.
In the case of the CPP-NPA-NDF, the formal talks have been already firmly set on August 20 to the 27. The panel headed by Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello had already been installed yesterday with an oath-taking with the President in the Palace. And we look forward to engaging our counterparts on the other side of the table by August 20.
We are very glad that in the meeting with the President yesterday, the two leaders or the presumptive leaders of Congress: the incoming Senate President Koko Pimentel and the incoming Speaker of the House Pantaleon, “Bebot” Alvarez joined us there.
We thought that the legislative branch will be a very important component of our work for peace because the executive department which I represent would merely sign an agreement but we know very well that implementation of an enabling law will have to come through Congress and that Congress should approve it.
And so, putting already the legislative branch already on early notice and onboard will shorten also this effort that we had. So with that we will end here and if there will be some questions that will be asked.
Sec. Mart and myself are willing to answer them.
Ms. Ruiz: Secretary Dureza, the first question will come from Celerina Monte:
SEC. DUREZA: Celerina, still as beautiful as ever, eight years ago. May love affair pa palang pwedeng ano — may forever ba?
Celerina Monte (The Manila Shimbun): Good afternoon, sir.
SEC. DUREZA: Hi.
Ms. Monte: Sir, regarding doon sa inclusivity, how are you going to go about it? Will you include all these groups sa Mindanao on the peace process? And regarding your communication with Congress, what Bill are you going to file? Is it the BBL or would you come up with another Bill?
SEC. DUREZA: Iyong BBL hindi ba tapos na ‘yon? Dahil nag-adjourn ang Congress and it has not been passed. But we are going to pick up the pieces which were left off from the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. There is a mechanism called the Bangsamoro Transition Commission if you may recall and it was constituted then with 15 members. That will be the start-off point where we will pick it up. We will now recompose under the Roadmap as approved by the President the membership of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.
We hope that in that composition, there will — that will be that start of the so-called inclusivity. That means we’ll have the MILF there, the MNLF, representatives perhaps of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, the Sultanates, the IPs. They compose it together then as mandated in the CAB, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission will do two things: One, to craft an enabling law that they will have to submit. So they will have to work out together the convergence of all their interests, of all these groups. And then, if Congress will pass it, then they will pass it. The other mandate is to propose amendments to the Constitution as originally stated in the mandate of the BTC or the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. When we start implementing these agreements as committed by President Duterte, it is to be done simultaneously with the effort to install a federal system of government.
In other words, it proceeds as envisioned, the enabling law that will be passed coming from the BTC, from the Bangsamoro themselves, in convergence, can be also a pilot what? Federal state of the Bangsamoro as we move towards a nationwide federal setup later on. As we know very well, setting up the federal system is something that will have to be — the timeline is a little bit longer.
Ms. Monte: So, sir, in effect, ‘yung BBL, the BBL that was drafted during the previous administration is out of the picture already kasi we are going to come up with the new proposed measure eh?
SEC. DUREZA: Well, you can say it that way but you can also say that this will be a new enabling law and it will probably be called a new enabling law. But it stems from the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro of the MILF.
Ms. Monte: So, sir, the head would still be the MILF kasi si — ?
SEC. DUREZA: The composition as I told you will be the same. The composition of the BTC is 15 members and eight of that membership will be from the MILF. And then we will spread it to the other Bangsamoro groups.
Ms. Monte: Sir, no more representative from government? Kasi, from, previously seven of the members came from the government and MILF?
SEC. DUREZA: Technically, when you say representative of the government, they are chosen by government. So, it’s up to government now to make the choice. So, we’d like to see a convergence of all these groups from the appointment that government will do.
Ms. Monte: Sir, last from my end.
SEC. DUREZA: More, more, more. Don’t limit yourself.
Ms. Monte: How soon could you come up with this BTC and when are you going to start to craft this measure and if ever when is the target to file it before Congress?
SEC. DUREZA: As much as possible, as early as possible. As early as possible. But we have a timeline. But, you know, we don’t tie down people by exposing a timeline. But we have an internal timeline that we’d like to see the BTC already come up with the enabling — the proposed enabling law that we will submit to Congress.
But with the CAB already there, I foresee that the — it will not be as long as it was before. Then, we will leave it to Congress to act on it. And, hopefully we can get an early approval. We are committed to implementing all signed agreements, by the way. That is the whole context of this effort that we are having.
Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, sorry, if we can digress a little bit. I understand that former President Arroyo has called you before this press conference. Can you tell us what she told you? And your reaction to the Supreme Court ruling being—?
SEC. DUREZA: What was the first question again?
Mr. Morong: I understand that former President Arroyo called you. Can you share a little conversation?
SEC. DUREZA: Oh, do I share a private conversation?
Mr. Morong: Well, it’s up to you, sir.
SEC. DUREZA: Okay. Baka chismis gusto mo? Hindi? Okay. Anyway. We see that justice has been served with the decision of the Supreme Court with the vote of 11-4.
And, of course, personally, because I served under President Arroyo. I rejoice over this decision that had already given her what she rightly deserves, which is justice.
We talked on the phone, on my way here. And I congratulated her and so she said that — and then from the background I could here so many people there.
So maraming bumisita sa kanya because I have been visiting her with wife, many times over, previous to this.
And so, on a personal note, not expressing anybody’s feelings, but I’m so elated that justice had been served with this decision.
Mr. Morong: What did she tell you?
SEC. DUREZA: Say again.
Mr. Morong: What did she tell you when you congratulated her?
SEC. DUREZA: Oh, that’s between her and me.
Mr. Morong: Okay, no problem.
SEC. DUREZA: Okay. Otherwise, I would put up in the — on a speakerphone and everybody to hear, hindi naman ‘di ba? Hindi. Thank you.
[Ms. Ruiz: John Paolo Bencito of Manila Standard]
SEC. DUREZA: It’s Joyce there who is receiving your articles?
John Paolo Bencito (Manila Standard): Yes, sir. Sir, good afternoon. Sir, the MNLF has said before that they are pushing for a Moro convention? Is this the same with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that will look into the proposals of the MNLF and MILF, sir, to push for a federal form of government for the Bangsamoro? Second question, sir —
SEC. DUREZA: One by one para hindi —
Mr. Bencito: Okay, sir. Sige po.
SEC. DUREZA: ‘Yung the… Whatever the Bangsamoro will do in order for them to craft together that possible enabling law is left for them to determine. That should be entirely a Bangsamoro concern.
So whether they call for a convention, they meet together, is something that we will welcome but we will leave that therefore to the Bangsamoro to make that determination.
Mr. Bencito: Okay. Sir, second question po: Is the…The MILF has repeatedly expressed its concern on the BBL, sir, that the government should honor the BBL as part of the CAB that it signed with the government, sir. Will it be… What assurance can you give the MILF that whatever is in the BBL will be incorporated to whatever is the plans of the government with the Bangsamoro government?
SEC. DUREZA: The BBL, by the way, to put it in proper context is the implementing mechanism that did not pass Congress. We are going to implement the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro or CAB.
So don’t mix one from the other, okay? We have… We are committed to work on the implementation of the CAB. Period.
Mr. Bencito: Okay, sir.
Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Welcome back, Secretary.
SEC. DUREZA: You’re back also or you have stayed? You have never left?
Mr. Romero: Back.
SEC. DUREZA: Back din. Okay.
Mr. Romero: Regarding the NDF talks, what will be the agenda for the formal talks, for the first formal talks?
SEC. DUREZA: It will be first a formal resumption. This is a milestone because as, you know, the peace talks had broken down for about four years. It has never moved. And, so we are now on the verge of milestone which is a resumption of the formal negotiations with the CPP- NPA-NDF.
There will be an agenda item as we had signed in the exploratory talks that happened few weeks ago in Oslo, as you know. We said that in this forthcoming meeting, we will discuss as an agenda item the matter about the activation of the JASIG which is the Joint Agreement — Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees that had also been stalled.
We will also discuss — of course, we will be affirming all previously signed agreements which is a matter of course. And we will discuss, of course, the matter about releases of prisoners and this will be discussed.
But we would like to tell you in advance that the President had directed yesterday for the different agencies, concerned agencies of government to already start working on the possible temporary release of members of the CPP-NPA-NDF who will be participating in the peace negotiations. But, the legal procedures will have to be closely followed according to him.
Mr. Romero: Who are these people who will be released?
SEC. DUREZA: It might be premature yet to disclose their names. Let’s just wait when — because the procedures will have to be followed. So, we cannot disclose prematurely the names because some procedures may not be followed for some or for all. We don’t know. So in fairness to them, we will disclose to you as it will happen, that list.
Mr. Romero: Final question on that topic on my part. ‘Yung possible temporary ceasefire or interim ceasefire, will that be discussed during the formal talks?
SEC. DUREZA: It’s part of the agenda item as we have agreed in the last exploratory talks. But we are looking at a possible but this will not — this is still going — this is not going to happen for certain. That perhaps before even we discuss the mechanics of a bilateral, bilaterally agreed ceasefire, there might be a possibility of a unilateral ceasefire from both sides. We don’t know yet. That’s still being worked out.
Mr. Romero: Thank you, Secretary.
Andreo Calonzo (Bloomberg): Hi, sir. Sir, if I’m not mistaken—
SEC. DUREZA: You are not mistaken go ahead.
Mr. Calonzo: MNLF leader Nur Misuari is still considered a fugitive right now because of the rebellion charges filed against him.
SEC. DUREZA: Yes, yes.
Mr. Calonzo: How will this affect the peace talks po?
SEC. DUREZA: Oh, it will not come in the way and we will follow legal procedures here. Mr. Nur Misuari, I just talked with him over the phone a while ago, he is still facing arrest due to the Zamboanga incident and the warrant of arrest is still active but his lawyers are contemplating of having that case reviewed.
So, we will see if that review will result to a suspension of the effects of a warrant. We will see but that is going to be the route that will be taken.
We cannot yet deal with him officially as he is still technically a fugitive from justice. As a matter of fact, in order to disabuse the minds of many who had already been massing in Sulu saying that the President is coming to meet with him, we will have to wait until that procedure is complied with. That we have to deal with the effects still of a warrant. It is only when a warrant is no longer in the way that this can proceed, accordingly.
Mr. Calonzo: Sir, what role will Joma…On the NDF po, what role will Joma Sison play in the talks? I think he’s planning to go home. Will this still push through?
SEC. DUREZA: Mr. Joma Sison sits across the table with me. Secretary Bebot Bello, by the way, is the chair and the members of the panel across the table will sit. And they have requested me also since…Although I am not a member of the panel, I’m supposed to be just playing oversight role in the negotiations, they have requested me to sit because Joma Sison, who is not a member of the panel but a consultant, also sits across the table. He plays a very key role in the negotiations. And we will see how it will develop.
Mr. Calonzo: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Secretary Jess, good afternoon.
SEC. DUREZA: Yes, sir.
Mr. Ganibe: Nabuo na ‘yung peace panel ng gobyerno para sa CPP-NPA-NDF.
SEC. DUREZA: Yes, sir.
Mr. Ganibe: Kamusta po naman ‘yung panig ng kabila? Kung mayroon na po ba silang magiging chair sa panel ng CPP —?
SEC. DUREZA: Meron na po, si Luis Jalandoni is the chair and members of the panel that we sat across on the other side of the table during our meeting several weeks ago was Fidel Agcaoili, Connie, and Julie Sison, the wife; Connie Jalandoni, the wife, and there are other resource persons who will be there.
In the forthcoming meeting in August, we expect a bigger group because as I told you earlier, we are working on the release of some personalities in the CPP-NPA-NDF who will be there to sit across the table. So if we succeed in releasing these resource persons of the NDF, then it will be a bigger panel across the table.
Mr. Ganibe: Secretary, follow-up question: Meron na po bang venue para doon sa susunod na — ay ‘yung sa unang pag-uusap sa CPP-NDF?
SEC. DUREZA: Meron na po, sa Oslo, Norway. Norway is the facilitator in the peace negotiations. They will host the forthcoming formal resumption of talks and I would like probably to prematurely announce that we have invited the Senate — the presumptive Senate President by then he had been installed: Senator Koko Pimentel and incoming Speaker Bebot Alvarez to grace that milestone event in the formal opening.
Mr. Ganibe: Another follow-up. Could you refresh us kung ano ‘yung mga nakalatag sa table na unang pag-uusapan ngayong August 20?
SEC. DUREZA: Kung maalala ninyo, meron tayong agenda item na pinirmahan namin during the exploratory talks, ‘no. Una muna, merong declaration…At the opening, after the opening, may ceremonial opening ‘yan ano, the affirmation — a statement of affirmation on the signed agreements — adherence to signed agreements.
Napakahalaga ‘yan dahil we are not going to reinvent the peace process or start off from the very beginning. Marami na kasing nagawa riyan so we build on all this.
We talked about the ceasefire, interim ceasefire, pag-usapan din ‘yan; pag-usapan namin ‘yung JASIG, pag-usapan natin ‘yung possible release of other prisoners na hindi lalabas dahil sa peace negotiations.
And then other matters that may be taken up. Baka pwede naming simulan ‘yung substantive issues because we have many substantive issues: the political, the socio-economic na pag-usapan. Kaya kailangan din nila ‘yung resource persons nila across the table.
So we will also be there with the panel headed by Secretary Bebot Bello in full force also to face up with them in the negotiations.
Mr. Ganibe: Okay, last from my part. Sa MILF, MNLF po na panig, magpu-push through na po ba yung pagbubuo ‘nung [anong tawag po dito?]…Iyong sa representation na mangagaling sa different groups habang hindi pa nase-settle yung case ni MNLF chairman Nur Misuari?
SEC. DUREZA: Ah—
Mr. Ganibe: Makakaapekto po ba ‘yon?
SEC. DUREZA: Iyong bubuuhin natin na BTC?
Mr. Ganibe: Opo.
SEC. DUREZA: Wala namang…Hindi naman ‘yun kwan eh, in the way…The pendency of a case against chairman Nur Misuari if it is a technical matter, is not in the way in the composition of the BTC dahil ang MILF meron silang ire-recommend that the President will appoint. Then government will look at, again, sino ‘yung i-a-appoint to compose the remaining membership of the BTC.
Mr. Ganibe: Thank you.
Ted Tuvera (Daily Tribune): Good afternoon, Secretary.
SEC. DUREZA: Yes, sir.
Mr. Tuvera: Ika-clarify ko lang po, sir, ‘yung binanggit ninyo kanina about dun sa mga CPP-NPA detainees. Sir, you were mentioning kasi na temporary release. So ibig sabihin po ba nito, if ever mag-succeed ‘yung peace talks with the NDF, ipu-pursue pa rin po ba ‘yung mga charges laban sa mga ‘to? Kasi sinasabi niyo “temporary release.”
SEC. DUREZA: Hindi temporary naman dahil only the courts can make a determination in the end dahil may kasong pending eh. Kaya temporary release lang ito, but this will have to be with the approval of the courts.
That is why in the determination of whether we will release the requested resource persons, you have to deal with the courts and go with the usual process in place. Pero balik ‘yan sila. They have to face these charges later on.
Now, depende sa outcome ngayon ng negotiations because it’s possible that in the outcome of the negotiations, there might possibly be an amnesty. Who knows, hindi ba? I’m not saying it but I am just suggesting to you that that’s one way or finally, the court will make a determination as to whether they’re guilty or not. But it will have to be the courts who will make that determination.
Mr. Tuvera: Thank you, sir. Another question, sir: Parang ino-authorize po kasi ni President Duterte ‘yung mga NPA na manghuli ng mga drug suspects. Sir, does that mean na the administration is allowing the NPAs to arrest or so to speak or parang iki-kidnap ata yung mga—
SEC. DUREZA: Have you not heard of the so-called citizens arrest? Ikaw, pwede kang umaresto e. So, he doesn’t have to authorize anybody. He was just saying that he will welcome efforts to clean up this drug menace in our neighborhoods.
So, when he mentioned it at bay, he’s just one of the citizens and this will also apply to you. You can arrest anyone as you know, whoever is in the process of committing a crime.
Pia Ranada (Rappler): Hi sir, good afternoon.
SEC. DUREZA: Hi, ma’am, how are you?
Ms. Ranada: Okay naman, sir.
SEC. DUREZA: Still as pretty as ever.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, before—
SEC. DUREZA: Bakit hindi mo sinasagot ‘yung tanong ko eh—
Ms. Ranada: Sir, may tanong kasi ako sa inyo—
SEC. DUREZA: Okay, okay. Sige, biro lang ha.
Ms. Ranada: Opo, opo. Sir, President Duterte also made a statement on the Abu Sayyaf calling them “not criminals” because they come from a place of ideology. This is what you also — this is how you also described MILF and MNLF before, that’s why he refused to call them bandits and so on and so forth. And so, does this mean, sir, that President Duterte will have a different policy with Abu Sayyaf given this pronouncement? Is he going to treat them as more than just bandits and will there thus be negotiations between the government and the Abu Sayyaf?
SEC. DUREZA: The policy remains the same that those who had committed crimes must have to be answerable for their crimes. Whether you call them Abu Sayyaf or whatever. If you commit criminal act, then you have to be responsible for this.
Ms. Ranada: But sir, ‘yun nga, he doesn’t define them as criminals.
SEC. DUREZA: You become criminals only when you are convicted already by a court of law. You are a suspect for committing a crime. Kasi kung gusto kang maging ano talaga diyan eh, very technical about it. Criminals are those that have already been convicted. Eh wala pa namang mga conviction ‘yon.
Ms. Ranada: So, sir, it is not true that Abu Sayyaf has —-
SEC. DUREZA: But you know, we say that the policy remains the same that all of those who commit, including the Abu Sayyaf, any crime at matindi pa sila dahil they behead their victims. And, you know, I felt so bad about it especially when they beheaded by friend John Ridsdel, the Canadian is a close friend of mine. Despite of our efforts to bring him out.
But how to deal with the Abu Sayyaf there is something else. Because as you know, if you know, I talked with Maritess Flor, the hostage was — that I took in and brought out from captivity, she told me that there are groups that bring victims to a so-called — they call it a “warehouse”. Everybody who gets somebody puts it in and another group puts it in and then they negotiate for money. But the community is involved because these are areas that are very remote, they have not been reached by government. Sabi nga niya: “Kinalimutan na ng Diyos”.
And they have no other interest but, you know… The children they grew up, they are not in school. Twelve years old, they are already armed according to Maritess. So ibig sabihin, they grew up in that kind of an environment, so you have to address it. While we address the armed force accordingly by military might and force, you have also to address the community. The enabling environment that provided this kind of an upsurge of criminality which is so, so even barbaric.
So, tanungin niyo anong gawin natin diyan sa Abu Sayyaf? It has to be a comprehensive approach. Deal with the community, deal with force with those who commit criminal acts and address it on a calibrated level. You cannot just bomb everybody there because it’s a whole community that’s involved eh. Kasi sabi ni Maritess and I’ll tell you, sabi niya: “Kapag dumating kami, as we move from one place to the other, ‘yung community, ‘yung grupo, ‘yung pamilya, ‘yung mga bahay doon, kapag dumating kami, wini-welcome kami and then they provide the security cordon for us and to protect the kidnappers and us. Ibig sabihin…Kapag may nagbayad ng ransom, sabi niya: “Lahat nakakatikim.” Sabi niya, “May nabibigyan ng tig P15,000, P16,000. So ‘pag pumunta sila sa isang lugar, ang expectation is naging source of kabuhayan eh kasi walang ibang kabuhayan doon. So how do you deal with that? It’s not a simple just military action. It has to be calibrated and it must be comprehensive ang approach.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, do we have any update on the condition of the hostages that remain with the Abu Sayyaf?
SEC. DUREZA: Well, I heard today that they took again five more Malaysians in Lahad Datu. Maybe you have heard about this already. Five more Malaysians. And the Indonesians are still there. Our Norwegian Kjartan is still in their hands right now. And there is an effort now by the group of Chairman Nur Misuari. I talked with him today. He called me over the phone and he said that he’d like to do coordination with our military forces on the ground because they’d like also to help in addressing the criminal acts committed by the so-called Abu Sayyaf Group.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, same issue, habang mainit pa.
SEC DUREZA: Oh, nandiyan ka pala.
Mr. Tinaza: Oo, sir. Sir, I remember, just correct me if I’m wrong during the last…
SEC. DUREZA: I won’t correct you. Sige go.
Mr. Tinaza: Our administration when you were still the peace adviser,
SEC. DUREZA: Yes.
Mr. Tinaza: And the negotiator for the MILF —
SEC. DUREZA: Yes.
Mr. Tinaza: You were strong about the no negotiation with the terrorist and this existing already the Abu Sayyaf.
SEC. DUREZA: Yes.
Mr. Tinaza: So, nagbago na ba ‘yon ‘yung position na no negotiation, no ransom with the terrorist or the Abu Sayyaf Group?
SEC. DUREZA: Nag-iiba kasi ‘yung interpretation mo ng negotiations eh. Iyong iniisip na negotiations, is it’s not in the context of negotiating like the MILF or the CPP-NPA-NDF when we deal with Abu Sayyaf. I negotiated personally to save lives. Hindi ‘yung negotiation na we sit across the table pagkatapos ano ‘yung pwedeng i-address namin. Kaya iba kasi ‘yung nila-lump up mo kasi ‘yung word na negotiation into one meaning eh kaya we have to distinguish it. I continue to negotiate, I will continue to negotiate with any person whether Abu Sayyaf or not to save lives. But negotiating in the concept of what we do with the MILF is something else.
Mr. Tinaza: But you might misread my idea. My point is negotiate in the sense that you talk with the Abu Sayyaf then you negotiate with the ransom whether to give or not to give.
SEC. DUREZA: I don’t talk ransom, I made that very clear. When I talk with the Abu Sayyaf in my private capacity before I joined government, dahil I want to assist the family of John Ridsdel, it was the daughter who was talking about money, that if they can offer a little something, just to save the life of the father. At that particular time, even when I was still in the private sector, I refused to talk about money. You know why?
‘Pag nagbigay ka ng pera doon, you even provide more incentive for more kidnappings for ransom. At sinabi nga ni Maritess and I get this from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Sabi niya, “Merong nagbigay ng ramson na malaki, hati -hati sila may tag- isang million at pinag-usapan, ‘makabili na ako ng ganitong baril, makabili na ko ng additional na bala,’ iba ‘pambili ng motorsiklo.’ So, you give them employment, you give them a source and then it gives more incentive to commit more kidnapping for ransom. Kaya nga I was warning a foreign country because they came in, immediately they paid ransom agad. They did not even allow our security forces to debrief those who were saved.
Hindi ba usually ‘pag may umuwi na hostage, kailangan ibigay mo sa military o sa pulis natin para matanong naman, saan sila banda? You can get valuable information. But I know of a foreign country that sent their representative in Sulu, saved their kababayan there and spear it to the mouth, they’d not even allow our local forces to, kaya anong nangyari? kidnap na naman. Dahil ‘di ba? You, you give them more incentive, go ahead.
Mr. Tinaza: So, so dun sa social services — because it’s been a lesson learned siguro na if you dump or you give a financial assistance, usually kasi parang sa nangyari sa ARMM previously, when you give money to the local officials, to local leaders they think the money of the government is theirs. So it doesn’t reach the ground. So, how do we correct that practice of corruption na instead of those the poorest of the poor in the Mindanao should benefit of the money, billions of money, will not stop at the pocket of the leaders?
SEC DUREZA: Iba na ‘to hindi na ito kidnap for ransom, itong tinatanong mo ‘di ba? Corruption na ito ?
Mr. Tinaza: Solution to the lingering —
SEC. DUREZA: Kung may solution ako noon pa sana, na solve na ‘yan. Wala akong solution. It has to be addressed. And you know, the way President Duterte now addresses all these issues, it may have a dent already dahil you have to start by— example muna sa level ng Presidente at sa level ng mga opisyales pagkatapos you have to correct the system. You have the address the system eh. Because if the system is a flawed, maraming leakage, ah then masyadong tempting in order to use government money for personal purposes. So you have to address the systemic problem that we are facing.
Ang problema niya, alam na natin ‘yan ano ‘yang systemic problems na yan eh, but hindi pa na-aaddress dahil takot for example, ‘yung COA, kausapin mo yung COA. Bakit hindi ka nag-examine doon sa mga lugar na ‘yan? ‘Sir, binabaril kami diyan ‘pag talagang examining namin, maa- ambush kami diyan.’ Shall we allow that to continue? Let’s see.
Mr. Tinaza: So sir, last point from my end. On the NDF – NPA peace process: Are you confident that Mr. Joma Sison and NDF official like Jalandoni and the other leaders talking to you is still have that control, direct control over the members especially the rebels on the ground.
SEC. DUREZA: It is not for us to make that determination. In the meantime, while we are talking with them. We assume that they have full control. It is when things will unfold that we will determine and get that answer as we see how it will happen on the ground.
Mr. Tinaza: Thank you sir, and good luck.
Joseph Morong (GMA – 7): Sir, nung anniversary po ‘nung Air Force, si President Duterte mentioned the Tiamzon couple as one of those that will be given, well, ano bang— palayain, in short—
SEC. DUREZA: Tiamzon couple.
Mr. Morong. Tiamzon couple. Are they the ones that you are working on?
SEC. DUREZA: Secret nga eh.
Mr. Morong: Sir, how—
SEC. DUREZA: You are asking me to disclose the names that I said I could not earlier. So that’s one way of going through the backdoor. Are you asking me whether—
Mr. Morong: But it’s the President who said that, sir. I am just trying to confirm that.
SEC. DUREZA: Okay. I haven’t heard the President say it. If you heard him say, that’s it. But I cannot interpret it further.
Mr. Morong: Sir, procedural lang. So papaano kung halimbawa nga ‘yung mga ire-release siya. This is going to happen before August 20, right?
SEC. DUREZA: Oo, kailangan na sila doon sa negotiations eh.
Mr. Morong: Procedural question, sir. So papaano, we’ll ask the courts to what?
SEC. DUREZA: Say it again.
Mr. Morong: Sir, procedural question. How are you going to that if they are under the court’s regime?
SEC. DUREZA: Oo, kaya nga. The Secretary of Justice in our meeting yesterday was directed with the President to comply with legal procedures in order that we effect the releases of those who are in the list.
Mr. Morong: Okay. So SoJ. Sir, sa MNLF—?
SEC. DUREZA: That is not to say for me to confirm or deny that the Tiamzons are in the list.
Mr. Morong: Okay, sir. I understand.
SEC. DUREZA: Make that very clear.
Mr. Morong: Yes, sir.
SEC. DUREZA: Dahil alam mo naman, baka may spin na naman lalabas diyan na hindi tama.
Mr. Morong: Sir, MILF. Sir, ‘yung BTC is that not under the regime of the CAB?
SEC. DUREZA: It is. As a matter of fact, that is the mechanism provided for by the CAB.
Mr. Morong: Yes. So ibig sabihin, sir, ‘yung MILF has agreed to have MNLF members in the BTC?
SEC. DUREZA: What do you mean agreed with —? In the previous BTC, eight of them were from the MILF.
Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yung sa CAB na ruling? Sa CAB na—?
SEC. DUREZA: ‘Yang BTC.
Mr. Morong: Okay.
SEC. DUREZA: You’re talking about the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that is provided for in the CAB.
Mr. Morong: Yes.
SEC. DUREZA: Remember that there was an EO already issued and made it operationalized. As a matter of fact — Wala pang bago ngayon. ‘Yung dati. So ‘yun.
Mr. Morong: Okay. So sir, ‘yung sabi ng ano ‘to… ng OIC na ang direction that they acknowledge and they recognize is the path that the MILF has identified. So, ganon pa rin ‘yung line natin, sir?
SEC. DUREZA: Say again. Can you say that again?
Mr. Morong: ‘Yun pong OIC direction that they recognize the CAB as a path forward to peace. Ganon pa rin ‘yung direction natin, sir? To unify the MNLF and the MILF peace process?
SEC. DUREZA: That’s exactly what I was saying earlier. That we will get everybody converged and that there will be inclusivity. And we’re glad that the OIC had been assisting us in putting together these other — all these separate factions together, ‘di ba? There’s now a unity agreement that they had signed. Even during my time and they had a recent agreement also signed in that direction.
Mr. Romero: Sec, clarification. During your previous statement regarding the NDF talks, you said it will — ‘yung formal talks will begin July, now we will start in —
SEC. DUREZA: August 20 to 27.
Mr. Morong: But, previously, you have a previous statement parang sinabi July. Can we just get ‘yung facts bakit naging — na-move to August?
SEC. DUREZA: Ah, okay. The reality is that there is a need to release the requested participants in the negotiations and the period is a little bit short to see that happen, if it is possible. So realistically, we moved it to August 20.
Mr. Romero: Thank you, Sec.
Tina Mendez (The Philippine Star): Sir, good afternoon. The Presidential Communications Office released a photo of the President talking to Nur Misuari over the phone.
SEC. DUREZA: Yes.
Ms. Mendez: May we know kung ano ‘yung—
SEC. DUREZA: Pinagusapan?
Ms. Mendez: Pinagusapan or did the President tell him na ayusin mo na ‘yung kaso mo, hindi ka muna huhulihin para makasama ka na namin sa—
SEC. DUREZA: After he approved kasi… Well, malaman na rin ninyo, after the President approved the Roadmap which included the Bangsamoro, he asked that a phone call be made to Chairman Nur Misuari.
Because we knew that Chairman Nur Misuari had been wanting to talk to him and I also reiterated it to him. ‘Nong tumayo siya, sabi: “Tawagan niyo nga para makausap ko.” So nag-usap sila. And the… The conversation was very open. It was on speakerphone. So for those who were there, they know exactly. It was something very warm between two friends, greeting each other.
Ms. Mendez: Like come out in the open?
SEC. DUREZA: Ah, walang ganon. Walang ganon. Pwede ko bang sabihin ano sinabi ni Presidente sa kanya? Meron siyang sinabi eh. Sabi niya: “Hello.”
Ms. Mendez: And then?
SEC. DUREZA: “I love you, Nur”.
[Is it me you’re looking for?]
Ms. Mendez: Anyway, the President has been open naman para mag-reach out kay—
SEC. DUREZA: Oo, oo naman. They have been… They know each other for some time already. And, Nur is a very, very warm to him in the same manner as the President has been warm to him.
Ayaw kayong maniwala na sinabihan siya: “I love you, Nur.” Okay, kung ayaw niyo.
Ms. Monte: Sir, out of over 500 detainees from the CPP-NPA-NDF. How many would be initially ‘yung ‘yung working on para magkaroon ng temporary release?
SEC. DUREZA: As many as are needed in the initial negotiations. Hindi natin masabi ang number dahil hindi nga tayo sigurado kung ‘yung number na ‘yan na nilalakad na para ma-release, eh ‘yun ang, ‘yun ang maging number na lalabas. So antayin na lang natin ‘pag lumabas na ‘yung approvals ng court.
Ms. Monte: Ba’t ilan ba sir ‘yung nire-request ng other side na to be part of that peace negotiation?
SEC. DUREZA: Enough for the initial meeting.
Ms. Monte: Sabi around 20 raw. Is it right? 21 to be exact.
SEC. DUREZA: Depende kung saan ka maniwala.
Ms. Monte: Okay. It was ano… Si Secretary Bello ‘yung may sabi ‘non before.
SEC. DUREZA: Oo nga, oo nga. So ask him not me.
Ms. Monte: Sir, another thing ‘yung… Would Malaysia still play a role in the peace process with the Bangsamoro?
SEC. DUREZA: Well, the Malaysia and the other foreign partners who will play a role in the implementation… Remember, the time of negotiations are over. That’s the clear statement of the President.
In other words, all of those who are still involved in negotiations will probably have to shift somewhere else.
Ms. Monte: So, kasi before Malaysia is for MILF and Indonesia for MNLF or ‘yung sa Committee of the Eight?
SEC. DUREZA: Yes.
Ms. Monte: So how would they—? Would they be part of this peace process?
SEC. DUREZA: Oo, lahat ng foreign partners ay kailangan in order that will bring about peace in the land. They’re all welcome to help us. You look at the number of foreign countries now involved in the peace process, ang dami-dami.
In fact, since the President had also directed me and the OPAPP, not only to just talk and sign agreements but improve the lives of the stakeholders on the ground. We will be doing development work, simultaneous will the implementation of these agreements.
In other words, we will invite all our foreign partners, who may probably already whose role is no longer needed kasi tapos na ‘yung negotiation, to shift and still be around and support us in the development aspect. Baka they can provide us funds and support for our development projects on the ground.
Ms. Monte: So the International Monitoring Team, they would continue to be there in Mindanao?
SEC. DUREZA: Depende sa kanyang terms of reference. Kasi International Monitoring Team takes care of keeping the peace in the area. Napakahalaga pa ‘yan. Keep the ceasefire in place dahil may interregnum kasi ngayon ‘di ba? Hindi pumasa ‘yung BBL.
Mabuti na nga lang the mechanisms of the peace, ceasefire system is in place kaya wala kang makitang bakbakan ng gobyerno at MI dahil hindi nga natuloy ‘yung BBL. Why? Because the mechanisms are working. And we would like to see that continue in that manner.
Ms. Monte: Sir, last. Who will be the chief negotiator of the government who will deal with the MILF?
SEC. DUREZA: There is no more negotiations. Why are you? You are missing my point again.
Ms. Monte: Hindi what I mean is — Sir, sorry.
SEC. DUREZA: The period of negotiations are over. Okay?
Ms. Monte: So no more ano specific person, point person to deal with the Bangsamoro?
SEC. DUREZA: Well, dealing. Something else. I deal with them. I’m OPAPP, yes and my other officials who will be named to deal with them.
Ms. Monte: So, wala ng ganon kay Professor Ferrer na direct—?
SEC. DUREZA: Oh, you should thank Professor Ferrer already for all the achievements that she had achieved in spite of the challenges she faced. And she had contributed already the foundations and this is where we’ll pick up, as a matter of fact, in our work for sustainable peace.
Iba naman. ‘Wag naman ‘yung peace process. You can ask me any question ‘di ba, with the permission of the Press Sec. Oh sige, para ma-practice naman ako uli doon sa trabaho ko dati. Whatever. Under the sun.
Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Ito muna, sir.
SEC. DUREZA: You want legal advice on girlfriends, paramours, anything under the sun.
Mr. Liwanag: Okay, sir. Good afternoon.
SEC. DUREZA: Yes, sir. Good afternoon.
Mr. Liwanag: Sir, ‘yung… How do the government handle ‘yung sinasabing connection ng ISIS sa ilang mga armed group in the Philippines, like Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups, sir.
SEC. DUREZA: The statement of our Armed Forces has always been consistent. There is no evidence at all yet of the presence of ISIS here. ‘Di ba? So let’s keep that official line still the same. Unless, we have evidence showing otherwise.
Pero makikita mo ‘yung Abu Sayyaf and the other terrorist groups are trying to project themselves as “Uy, qualified na kami maging ISIS dahil we are also as barbaric as the ISIS abroad.” But, the military authorities that we have have always consistently said that there is no clear evidence yet of the presence and operation of the ISIS in the country. Unless, there is evidence pointing otherwise.
Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much.
Ms. Ruiz: Henry Uri, sir, of DZRH.
SEC. DUREZA: Hi, Henry.
Mr. Henry Uri (DZRH): Secretary, magandang hapon po. The United States labeled NPA as terrorists. Papaano yung kanilang seguridad pagbalik ng Pilipinas? Sila ba’y huhulihin at ang Estados Unidos ba ay gumarantiya na na hindi na sila pakikialaman once they return home?
SEC. DUREZA: Tanungin natin ang Amerika kung anong gawin nila, ‘di ba? I mean, it is not for us to — we are not privy to what their plans are.
Mr. Uri: Kung sakali pong sila ay hulihin along the way?
SEC. DUREZA: Ang problema lang…Tinanong na rin yan dati eh, kasi ‘di ba? Actually baka gusto ni Chairman Joma Sison na umuwi. And somebody ask that question eh paapaano dahil naka-terrorist list pa ‘yung CPP-NPA-NDF, ‘di ba? So they can be interdicted in the transit points ‘di ba ‘pag umuwi dito sa Pilipinas.
My feeling there is, and this is very personal yet, we have to revalidate it, if we are able to see that Chairman Joma Sison is a very important partner in bringing about peace, I think the US will really also cooperate with us in terms of seeing this through and I don’t think they will provide the stumbling block towards achieving this laudable objective hindi ba?
So, it’s just my feeling that whatever probably the directions we take as a nation, I think our allies will continue to support us, accordingly.
Mr. Uri: Tayo po ay matibay na kaalyado ngayon ng Amerika at sabi nila, terrorist yung NPA, so makikipag-negotiate tayo ngayon sa tinatawag nilang “terrorist.”
SEC. DUREZA: Correct. Eh, sila ang nag-label. Tayo ba ang nag-label sa kanilang “terorista”? Hindi eh. ‘Di ba? I mean, let’s make it very clear. And that’s the reason why we are negotiating with them and we keep on negotiating with them. The EU — European Union and the US had labeled them as terrorist organizations.
You know, there are implications there in that labeling. It can mean that foreign governments can even embargo certain assets, they cannot go to these countries, otherwise, they will be subjected to arrests and all that. May mga consequence yung labeling nila eh. But ultimately, ‘pag magkakaroon na tayo ng parang indication na talagang kailangan na natin si Mr. Joma Sison, to also allow his return in the Philippines, I’m very confident that our allies will not be in the way.
Mr. Uri: Kung sakali pong sabihin ng US government na stop negotiating with them and dealing with them because they are terrorists. Anong gagawin po natin?
SEC. DUREZA: I don’t answer speculative questions.
Mr. Ganibe: Itatanong ko lang yung statement niyo do’n sa ano— yung panibagong bihag ng Abu Sayyaf. May ibang detalye po ba kayo ‘non kung kelan at kung nasaan po ngayon?
SEC. DUREZA: Saan ba ang telepono ko? I just got a text message from my man on the ground there and I’ll share it with you, kaning lang. And I’ll read it to you: [Asan ba ‘yun? Limang Malaysian yun eh, nakuha nila]. Ayan. Okay:
July 18, kahapon.. 16:00 hours. Anong oras yun?
Ms. Ruiz: 4 p.m.
SEC. DUREZA: “Five Malaysian crews aboard Tawau Sabah-based tug boat, T/B Serudong 3 in a barge. Four loaded while traveling from Sandakan to Semporna. When Malaysian authorities recovered the said boat, running unmanned, wala ng tao, at the vicinity of the sea water of
Iyon, so, this is a report from the ground.
SEC. DUREZA: They have not mentioned it.
Mr. Ganibe: Nasa Pilipinas na po ba sila na—
SEC. DUREZA: It has not been indicated. I read to you the full text. So hanggang diyan lang muna tayo.
Mr. Ganibe: Sir, Mr. Secretary, doon sa peace agreement na binabanggit—sa MILF, MNLF ay magkakaroon na ng implementation ng massive development. Kasama ba doon sa peace road map na pinresenta— na inaprubahan ni Pangulong Duterte kahapon ‘yung mga listahan ng mga projects na gagawin?
SEC. DUREZA: Wala pa. In fact, it was mentioned because I called the attention of the President that my office, the Peace Office, has no mandate in terms of doing direct implementation of projects. What has been done so far like the PAMANA project, was that, doon naka-lodge sa mga departamento: Department of Agriculture, DPWH, tapos ang OPAPP, nagfa-follow up lang. Eh paminsan, hindi kaagad ma-implement dahil hindi yun priority ng departamento. Tapos ang OPAPP ngayon, ang Office of the President ang hinahanapan on the ground. That’s’ why we asked the President if we could get an amendatory—a revision of our Executive Order, perhaps allowing us: first, oversight over development agencies doing peace in the conflict affected areas; and pangalawa, also to implement somehow doable livelihood and socio-economic
SEC. DUREZA: Hindi pa lumabas yung EO na ‘yan ha, okay.
Ms. Ruiz: Thank you, Secretary Dureza, Secretary Andanar.
SEC. DUREZA: Okay, sige. Salamat ha. I love to engage you again. Anytime.
SEC. ANDANAR: How about a big round of applause for Secretary Jess Dureza, our guest. We would like to announce that after this briefing, there is a very important announcement by the President. It’s going to be released on RTVM and PTV right now.
SEC. ANDANAR: Let’s just wait for his announcement. I don’t want to preempt the pronouncement of the President.
SEC. ANDANAR: Right now.
Ms. Ruiz: Thank you, Malacanang Press Corps. Back to main studios of PTV and Radyo ng Bayan.